LONDON — BAE Systems has unveiled the members of its industry team pitching for a British Army 155mm artillery requirement ahead of the expected launch of the competition early next year.

Babcock and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) are joining a BAE-led team offering the Archer 8x8 wheeled artillery system for the Ministry of Defence’s Mobile Fires Platform program, the companies announced Dec. 11.

The Archer is built by BAE’s Swedish defense operation, but the company said British industry content could amount to 60% if Archer is selected for the British Army.

Under the terms of the industrial tie-up, dubbed the Archer Artillery Alliance, BAE will provide and integrate the weapon system as well as setting up an assembly and test facility.

The company is currently looking at potential assembly sites in the north of England, having closed its gun production site there several years ago when M777 155mm lightweight howitzer production concluded.

BAE told Defense News it was also looking to reestablish a British barrel making capability as part of any deal.

RBSL will be in the lead for supplying of the HX 8X8 truck chassis for the bid. The UK joint venture between BAE and Rheinmetall is currently building Boxer and Challenger 3 armored vehicles for the British Army.

Babcock will have responsibility for consolidation of the superstructure and ammunition resupply system while contributing its manufacturing and maintenance, capabilities.

The Army is looking to replace its aging AS90 155mm systems and is in the concept phase of a mobile fires program expected to see 96 wheeled or tracked vehicles delivered with an initial operating capability of 2029.

Rival bidders for the program include Hanwha Aerospace of South Korea, partnered with Lockheed Martin UK and others, with the K9 Thunder, and KMW of Germany with the RCH 155/52 variant of the Boxer wheeled personnel carrier being bought by the British.

Prompted by lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine MoD officials have been looking at the possibility of accelerating the artillery program.

The British government has already acquired 14 Archers as an interim measure to fill a capability gap left by the gifting of AS90s to the Ukraine military early 2023.

Four Archers have already been delivered to the British and a further 10 are due to be handed over in a single batch early next year, BAE told Defense News.

Sweden has also delivered Archer systems to Ukraine with the weapon recorded in action for the first time in recent video footage.

The Swedish military already operate Archer, and the system has been selected by Switzerland.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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